1.4 Million Americans Experience Traumatic Brain Injury Each Year

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Studies show that 1.4 million Americans will experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) this year, leading to 275,000 hospitalizations and 52,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. These injuries may be mild to serious, and can lead to permanent mental damage and even death.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and Frazier Rehab Institute is working to increase awareness across the Commonwealth of the signs and symptoms of a brain injury.

“Traumatic brain injuries result from a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain,” said Darryl Kaelin, MD, Frazier Rehab Institute Medical Director, and Physical Medical and Rehabilitation Division Chief at University of Louisville Physicians. “They have become increasingly common in adults and children, so it’s important to understand how to determine if a person is at risk for, or suffering from, a head injury.”

There are many causes of TBI, with falls proving to be the most common. Falls disproportionately affect the youngest and oldest age groups. Other leading causes include an unintentional blunt trauma, like being hit by an object, and motor vehicle accidents.

TBIs are classified as mild, moderate or severe. Victims can display a wide variety of physical, cognitive and sensory symptoms, which can help classify the severity of the injury. About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Concussions can appear right away or days or months after the injury.

Adults or children experiencing a concussion typically display loss of consciousness for seconds to a few minutes, a state of being dazed or confused, headache, nausea or vomiting, drowsiness or difficulty sleeping, dizziness and loss of balance. These victims may also experience blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell. They can show signs of mood swings, depression or anxious behavior.

Severe to moderate brain injuries include symptoms such as loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours, severe headaches, repeated vomiting, convulsions or seizures, pupil dilation, fluids draining from the nose and eyes, weakness or numbness in fingers and toes and loss of coordination. Victims may display profound confusion, slurred speech, agitation or combativeness, and in extreme cases, they will become comatose.

Individuals with severe TBIs will likely require hospitalization. Severe TBIs can result in coma or amnesia after injury. These injuries can lead to death or lasting brain damage. Approximately 5.3 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

“Traumatic brain injuries can affect all aspects of the patient’s life, and the lives of their friends and family,” said Dr. Kaelin. “Disabilities that develop from traumatic brain injuries can inhibit the victim’s ability to drive, complete household tasks, maintain employment and even uphold relationships. Our goal is to provide customized treatment and help restore patients to their fullest potential of independence.”  

If you or someone in your care experiences a blow to the head, it is important to see a doctor right away. Do not wait for traumatic brain injury symptoms to occur.

If you or a loved one has a concussion or think you may, call the Frazier Rehab Brain Injury Program at 502.582.7476.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Stroke [Infographic]

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Stroke [Infographic]

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Stroke [Infographic]

Do you know the warning signs of stroke?

Each year, more than 800,000 people in the United States experience a stroke. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of stroke early. If administered within the first three hours of symptom onset, FDA-approved clot buster drugs have shown to reduce long-term disability in many stroke patients.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke:

  • Facial Drooping — Ask the individual to smile. Is one side of his or her face drooping downward?
  • Arms — Next, ask him or her to raise both arms and note whether one drifts downward.
  • Slurred or Strange Speech — Finally, ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is it correct? Is his or her speech difficult to understand?
  • Time — If someone has these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Don’t put off medical attention, even if the symptoms disappear.

Approximately 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and making lifestyle  changes can help lower a person’s chances of having a stroke, including exercising regularly, quitting smoking, eating healthier, managing cholesterol and blood pressure, and managing atrial fibrillation.

View the infographic below to learn more about the signs and symptoms of stroke.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

If you would like more information on stroke, risk factors or treatment, schedule an appointment with a health care provider or learn more at KentuckyOne Health Stroke Care.

Learn More About Irregular Heartbeat [Infographic]

Learn More About Irregular Heartbeat [Inforgraphic]

Learn More About Irregular Heartbeat [Inforgraphic]

Heart arrhythmias occur when there is a change to the normal sequence of electrical impulses that coordinate heartbeats. This can result in the heart beating too fast, too slow or irregularly, which can affect whether blood is being pumped effectively within the body.

Learn more about the symptoms and risk factors of heart arrhythmia below. If you begin experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Colon Cancer Risk Factors and Warning Signs

If you are experiencing an irregular heartbeat or palpitations, schedule an appointment with a health care provider or learn more about available health screenings

How to Ease Pain Caused by Varicose Veins

How to Ease Pain Caused by Varicose Veins

If you have varicose veins, you’re not alone. According to the American Society for Vascular Surgery, more than 20 million Americans are affected by raised and enlarged veins, which most often occur in the legs or feet.

Our veins have tiny valves that work to circulate our blood, carrying it from the rest of our body to our heart. When these one-way valves quit working or are weakened, blood doesn’t flow as it should and pressure beings to build from the blood collecting in the legs.

For some, the resulting varicose veins may only be a cosmetic concern, but for others they could indicate a more serious problem and require treatment. It’s important to speak with your doctor about any concerns that you have regarding varicose veins. Your doctor can check for common symptoms, like swelling, sores, skin discoloration or tenderness, to make a diagnosis and discuss a treatment plan, if necessary.

If you are experiencing large bulging veins, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can try to minimize discomfort. Here are four at-home therapies that may help ease pain associated with varicose veins or prevent them from getting worse.

  1. Exercise

Exercise has a number of health benefits, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that getting your blood pumping can be good for your vein health too. Low-impact exercises that get you moving but don’t put additional stress on your veins can help minimize symptoms by promoting blood flow.

Walking and bicycling can be great options to help relieve pain and discomfort from swollen veins. You should consult your doctor before starting a new workout routine. Some exercises can be counterproductive to vein health and your health care provider can help determine what’s safe and effective for you.

  1. Compression Stockings

Your doctor may recommend compression stockings – a special type of hosiery that applies pressure to your lower legs. Wearing compression stockings compresses the surface veins in your legs, which encourages circulation and blood flow from the legs and feet to the heart. Compression stockings vary in strength, size, brand and type and can be purchased online or at a pharmacy.

  1. Elevating Your Legs

Our veins are having to work against gravity – pumping blood back up from our legs to our heart. Elevating your legs, however, works with gravity to help encourage blood flow and alleviate pressure. Less pressure can mean less pain and much needed rest for your veins and body.

  1. Over-the-counter Medication

Over-the-counter medication might be recommended to manage discomfort. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen may help. But if you notice any issues with your varicose veins or symptoms become too painful, treatment may be needed. Varicose vein treatments can include laser surgery, sclerotherapy and catheter-assisted procedures.

If you are experiencing pain from varicose veins, speak with your health care provider. Your health care provider can provide additional information on available options and determine if treatment may be necessary. Making a few lifestyle adjustments, like adding low-intensity exercise to your day and remembering to elevate your feet, can be conservative approaches to easing varicose vein pain.

Your primary care provider can help diagnose and manage a wide range of health issues, and refer you to a specialist when needed. Don’t wait to speak with your provider if you have any questions or concerns. If you need a primary care provider, find one near you today.

Hand Safety Tips while Working on the Lawn or Garden

Hand Safety Tips while Working in the Lawn and Garden

Hand Safety Tips while Working on the Lawn or Garden

Warm weather and longer days bring many people outside for fun in the sun, including tending to their lawns and gardens.

Participating in these activities brings an increased chance for serious hand and upper extremity injuries, especially when using lawn mowers and other garden tools.

Special precautions should be taken when gardening and working on the lawn to prevent injury. We’ve gathered a few recommended safety tips to keep in mind while working on the yard.

Lawn Mowing Safety

  • Keep all children away from the area being mowed. The safest place is inside.
  • Make sure there are no sticks, stones or other objects that could get in the path of mowing.
  • Reach under the mower only when it has been turned off and the blade has completely stopped.
  • Refuel the mower only when it has cooled completely.
  • Do not give children rides on lawn mowers.
  • Wear tight fitting clothing so it does not get caught in machinery.
  • Store garden tools in their proper place when they’re not in use.
  • Always wear sturdy, close-toed shoes.
  • Never alter safety mechanisms on tools and mowers.

Gardening Safety

  • Avoid the sun’s rays with a light, long-sleeved shirt, long pants and a hat.
  • Wear gloves that are pliable with no restriction of movement and padded to avoid the development of calluses.
  • Keep tools clean and sharp.
  • Use ergonomic tools with grips that fit your hand.
  • Provide proper storage of tools to prevent rust or from tripping over them.
  • Use a wrist splint if signs of wrist tendinitis develop.
  • Poison ivy or poison oak plants should be avoided. Exposure to poisonous plants should be immediately followed with washing hands and effected area.
  • Remove splinters or thorns by washing the infected area, removing the object with a magnifying glass and pointed forceps and treating the area with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Scrub and trim torn fingernails; apply an antibiotic ointment if necessary.

To learn more about the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, contact 502.540.3727.

Colon Cancer Awareness [Infographic]

Colon Cancer Awareness Infographic

Did you know that colorectal cancer is treatable if caught early through screening?

Colorectal cancer refers to a type of gastrointestinal cancer that usually begins as a growth, called a polyp, in either the colon or the rectum. Kentucky has some of the highest rates of colorectal cancer deaths in the country. In 2013, the Commonwealth ranked fourth in the nation for colorectal cancer deaths, according to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project.

Fortunately, through early detection and treatment, the disease is also highly preventable. At least 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided if those 50 years or older had regular screening test, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Review the infographic below to learn more about risk factors for colon cancer and warning signs.

Colon Cancer Risk Factors and Warning Signs

 

Preventive health screenings are key to detecting diseases before you have symptoms. Speak to your primary care provider to learn more about each type of health screening available.

Stay Safe on Two Wheels

Staying Safe on Two Wheels

Staying Safe on Two Wheels

The right protective equipment and respect for the rules can help keep a bicycle accident from spoiling much more than your ride.

In 2015, emergency rooms across the U.S. treated more bicycle injuries — approximately 488,000 — than injuries from all but one other sport, basketball, according to the National Safety Council.

Low rates of helmet use may be to blame, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — fewer than half of riders wear one. Riders who don’t wear helmets typically experience the most serious injuries, such as damage to the brain or spinal cord.

Bicycle safety starts at home and continues on the ride. Here’s how to protect yourself.

Before You Go

  • Do your homework. “Plan your route before you leave home so you won’t encounter any surprises,” said Kathy Panther, director of the brain injury program and inpatient therapy at Frazier Rehab Institute, part of KentuckyOne Health, and a cycling lover. “If possible, ride with a group, which is safer because you are more visible.”
  • Gear up. Every rider needs a fitted helmet (see “4 Steps to Helmet Harmony”), white headlight and red rear reflectors.
  • Keep your hands free. Outfit your bike with a rack, basket or handlebar bags — or wear a bike shirt with multiple pockets — so you can devote your hands to steering.

On the Road

  • Don’t ride distracted. Put your phone away and leave the earbuds at home.
  • Go with the flow. Travel the same direction as car traffic, which carries less risk of injury.

If you have recently suffered a brain injury from a bike accident or while playing a sport, Frazier Rehab Institute has a concussion helpline open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Just call 502.420.0125 to speak with an expert.

4 Steps to Helmet Harmony

  1. Check the label. Choose a helmet certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  2. Focus on fit. The helmet should cradle your head snugly with no forward or backward tilt or side-to-side movement. Above all, it should protect your forehead — the most likely point of injury in a crash.
  3. Adjust appropriately. Make sure the side straps form a “V” over the ears, and pull the chinstrap until it fits snugly.
  4. Know when to let go. If the helmet takes a hit in a crash, replace it.

This story originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.

Pills, Pills, Pills: Safety First

Pills, Pills, Pills: Safety First

Pills, Pills, Pills: Safety First

Staying organized is an Rx for prescription safety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a quarter of Americans currently take three or more prescription medications. Managing multiple medications can be complicated, especially when many medications interact with each other.

One way to keep track is to create a list of all the medications you take. Share this information with your pharmacist and primary care physician. They can help make sure you don’t have duplicate prescriptions or mix the wrong medications, which can cause adverse side effects.

“Be open with your health care team about every pill you take, including vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medications,” said Kevin Poe, PharmD, BCPS, clinical pharmacy manager at Saint Joseph Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. “If you notice unusual side effects, speak up. We can often find alternative prescriptions or adjust your medication list to help you feel better.”

Simple Is Best

“To make medication management easy, consider using the same pharmacy to fill all of your prescriptions,” said Carrie Schanen, PharmD, managed care pharmacy specialist with KentuckyOne Health Partners. “Create a relationship with your pharmacist. That way, he or she knows you and your history.”

Poe recommends asking your pharmacist for tips about organizing your medications. Your pharmacy may recommend tracking apps or sell color-coded pillboxes to sort medications.

“Having a routine can help you remember when to take your medications,” Schanen said. “Try pairing each dose with a memory trigger, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast.”

Pharmacists are there to help you get the most out of your prescriptions and make sure you take them safely. Always follow their recommendations for handling, storing and taking medications. Keep prescriptions in a dry location away from sunlight, preferably not in the bathroom where humidity can be an issue.

“Be aware of what medications you take and why you take them. You are your own best safety and health care advocate,” said Poe.

This story originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.

Know Your Nerves

Know Your Nerves

Know Your Nerves

Approximately 20 million Americans have some type of peripheral neuropathy, a condition that can often be prevented and managed.

Tingling, numbness, muscle weakness — when these symptoms occur in the foot, they’re often signs of one of more than 100 nerve disorders called neuropathy.

Damage to the peripheral nervous system typically begins in the nerves farthest from the brain and spinal cord. One of the most common causes of neuropathy is uncontrolled diabetes. Other factors that increase the risk for neuropathy include:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Nutritional deficiency in B1, B12 or iron
  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

Take Care

It’s possible to have neuropathy from diabetes without symptoms or with subtle signs that only a health care professional might notice. Numbness caused by neuropathy may make it difficult to notice cuts or swelling on the feet without routinely checking for them.

For this reason, doctors often tell patients with diabetes to do daily foot exams or, if they can’t, have a primary care provider or podiatrist do them. Unmanaged peripheral neuropathy can spread to the legs, arms and hands.

Nicole Everman, MD“Adopting healthier lifestyle habits, such as maintaining optimal weight, exercising daily and eating a balanced diet, can reduce effects of neuropathy,” said Nicole Everman, MD, neurologist with KentuckyOne Health Neurology Associates. “Physical and occupational therapy are also important when treating peripheral neuropathy because they help improve balance and motor strength.”

Other treatment options include oral medications for nerve pain and topical treatments such as capsaicin cream and lidocaine patches. An early diagnosis of neuropathy can help prevent further nerve damage, so people with symptoms should seek medical care.

Keep Your feet in Check

Most of us have heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true when it comes to diabetic neuropathy.

“Studies have shown that those with diabetes can reduce the risk of experiencing nerve damage by keeping blood sugar levels close to normal,” said Dr. Everman. “Peripheral neuropathy can also be a result of vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin B1 deficiencies, so eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”

Other prevention methods include:

  • Wearing well-fitted shoes
  • Inspecting your feet daily for any redness, swelling or wounds
  • Visiting your primary care physician or a podiatrist regularly

This story originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.

Not only do primary care doctors specialize in diagnosing and managing a wide range of health issues, they also teach you about prevention and wellness.  If you don’t have a primary care provider, find one near you today. To speak with someone about peripheral neuropathy, call KentuckyOne Health Neurology Associates at 859.263.8807.

Farm Safety Tips for Your Hands

Farm Safety Tips for Your Hands

Farm Safety Tips for Your Hands

It’s hard to imagine life without the benefits of powerful farm equipment, but farm implements also pose dangers to the people who use them. Each year in the United States farming is ranked as one of the most dangerous professions, with many farming accidents involving the upper extremities.

Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center offers the following safety guidelines to help keep you, your family and employees safe while working with farm equipment.

Farm Equipment Safety

  • Know the proper use, and limitations of your equipment. If you do not have instructions, contact the manufacturer.
  • Match tractors with equipment of same power and speed levels to prevent machine failure and possible serious injury.
  • Use heavy-duty equipment for heavy-duty jobs.
  • Do not modify or remove safety features such as kill switches, roll bars or control bars. Use safety features and heed the manufacturer’s warnings!
  • Use runners and chain guards on mowers.
  • Keep power transmission shafts covered and shield power takeoff shafts properly.
  • Disengage or unplug all power takeoffs, blades, cutterbars, crimper rolls or other moving parts before handling equipment.
  • Do not use hands to clear jammed equipment.
  • Keep hands and feet clear of moving parts.
  • Inspect controls and parts for loose nuts and bolts before each use.

General Farm Safety

  • Avoid working alone. Use “the buddy system.” Your buddy should know safe usage of equipment and will be able to get help immediately in case of an accident.
  • Never allow children to operate equipment, ride double or play or work nearby. Children may be hit by flying debris or dragged into moving parts. They are not strong or knowledgeable enough to handle equipment properly.
  • Avoid loose or baggy clothing. Clothing can be dragged into machinery.
  • Be vigilant of area and terrain. Stumps, rocks, and hidden debris can cause overturns, and low tree limbs can knock an operator off a tractor.
  • Inspect banks and slopes for stability. On steep slopes, plan path of travel downhill. Never take shortcuts!
  • Report any skin conditions to your physician. Farm soil contains many pathogens conducive to serious infection. Use chemical-resistant work gloves to prevent burns and infection.

To learn more about the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, please contact 502.587.4799 or 502.561.4263. For additional information on hand care emergencies, call 502.540.3727.